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Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Residency: Research opportunities


Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Residency: Research opportunities

Mayo Clinic's Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Residency offers a robust research experience for trainees. With dedicated mentors, protected time, and access to a wide variety of resources, opportunities to tackle projects big and small are at your fingertips.

We have a generous travel policy, which supports residents traveling to participate in academic meetings both nationally and internationally. We strive to support your individual research goals, and ensure you graduate with a broad understanding of the research process, the importance of scientific review, and experience working with statistical methods. 

In addition, we recognize the importance of creating relationships critical for the next steps in your career. With a diverse group of passionate academic M.D. and Ph.D. staff, we actively facilitate networking at meetings.

We encourage residents to consider impactful projects with the potential to change clinical practice. This requires financial support in addition to mentorship and access to resources. In 2019, we provided $45,000 in resident research financial awards, which provided support for everything from master's and Ph.D. level statisticians to biomedical engineers. 

We also offer competitive small grants within our department and have the infrastructure to support residents who wish to pursue both institutional and extramural grants. Our goal is to actively support career and academic development, regardless of personal choice to pursue private or academic medicine. 

For residents who are interested in academics, we help our trainees put together a competitive resume and experience that will open doors for fellowship and beyond.

Head and Neck Cancer and Reconstructive Surgery

The Division of Head and Neck Cancer and Reconstructive Surgery is committed to investigating solutions to help patients return to full and healthy lives following their cancer care. Our multidisciplinary research team includes collaborators in neurosurgery, radiology, in-house 3D anatomic modeling, biomedical engineering, the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, the Center for Individualized Medicine, and the Center for Regenerative Medicine, among others.

Our research team has a strong interest in HPV-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma, aggressive thyroid malignancy, subglottic stenosis, oral cavity cancer and reconstruction, and salivary disease, both benign and malignant. Additionally, we have partnered with the Department of Engineering to pioneer novel instrumentation to tackle surgical problems.

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The Division of Otology and Neurotology is actively engaged in basic, translational, and clinical outcomes research. Informed by our clinical practice, and in collaboration with the Division of Audiology and Neurologic Surgery, our primary areas of focus pertain to hearing loss, vestibular disorders, and skull base diseases including vestibular schwannoma and neurofibromatosis type II.

One area of particular interest is cochlear implantation surgery for patients with varying degrees of residual hearing. Our group has focused on strategies to preserve existing acoustic hearing during cochlear implantation including novel surgical techniques, modifications to electrode design, and intraoperative monitoring to mitigate cochlear trauma.

Another focus area is quality of life outcome analysis for patients with vestibular schwannoma tumors. Treatment of these tumors is highly controversial. To date, most studies comparing treatment modalities including surgery, radiation, and observation have compared measures such as hearing loss, facial nerve function, and tumor control. In order to analyze outcomes beyond this narrow scope of data, our research team has utilized quality-of-life measures to better understand patient-perceived outcomes in an effort to further refine treatment methods.

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Rhinology and Skull Base Surgery

Mayo Clinic's Division of Rhinology is actively investigating several areas of interest within the realms of chronic inflammatory sinus disease, endoscopic skull base surgery, and sinonasal malignancies.

Areas of focus include T-cell subset differential expression in patients with nasal polyposis and immune profile markers in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyposis and aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease, and outcomes and quality of life following skull base surgery.

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Mayo Clinic's Division of Laryngology is a collaborative research team investigating surgical and therapeutic aspects of unilateral vocal fold paralysis, early glottic cancers, novel behavioral voice therapies, and artificial intelligence use in the health care setting.

We partner with gastroenterology, pulmonology, and neurology departments to bring a multidisciplinary approach to our work. Current studies take into account the overall needs of our diverse patient population.

We have numerous ongoing investigations with external partners from other leading medical centers studying subglottic stenosis and Zenker’s diverticulum. Additionally, we have upcoming projects with partners in the professional voice world. 

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Pediatric Otolaryngology

Mayo Clinic's Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology works with pediatric pulmonologists, gastroenterologists, geneticists, neonatologists, pediatric anesthesiologists, and maternal fetal specialists to provide cutting edge care for our pediatric patients. We are currently working to establish best practice guidelines for children with complex aerodigestive and congenital hearing problems, as well as novel solutions for complex and rare problems in utero. We also participate in EXIT procedures and neonatal surgical research. 

We have an active Velopharyngeal Insufficiency Clinic, Craniofacial Clinic, and Aerodigestive Clinic, which all offer unique opportunities to study rare disease, unique team-based treatments, and clinical outcomes for our complex pediatric patient population.

We have a strong interest in global surgical care and surgical training, offering unique opportunities for international global health collaborative investigations.

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Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Mayo Clinic's Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is actively investigating clinically translatable predictive models, tissue biomechanics, and patient-reported quality of life outcomes.

We have partnered with the 3D anatomic modeling lab to create 1:1 surgical models for preoperative planning and custom prosthetics for non-surgical treatment of septal perforations.

We are engaged in applying visual eye tracking software to better understand the impact of location, color, and orientation of facial defects.  

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Sleep Surgery

Within Mayo's Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, a subset of our research focuses on sleep surgery. We have a unique skill set to provide the full breadth of surgical options to patients, from maxillomandibular advancement surgery to septorhinoplasty.

Our interests include outcomes associated with the hypoglossal nerve stimulator and surgical outcomes for the CPAP-intolerant patient. We've partnered with the ADHERE Registry which allows us to engage with a diverse community and investigate a diverse experience to better understand outcomes associated with stimulator implantation. 

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The Division of Audiology is committed to understanding the basic science of hearing loss and dizziness, and is actively engaged through NIH-funded grants, industry-sponsored projects, and international investigations. The cochlear implant team is investigating the use of intra- and post-operative electrocochleography to preserve natural acoustic hearing during cochlear implant surgery. 

Our audiology team has pioneered the use of artificial intelligence to manage and assess patients with dizziness, allowing us to improve the operational efficiency of our practice. We are actively engaged in research investigating computerized rotational head impulse testing and using hearing aids to track patient falls.

Areas of focus include the detection and prevention of hearing loss due to ototoxicity, noise exposure, and aging.

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Neurosurgery/Skull Base

As critical members of our skull base team, the Department of Neurologic Surgery is intimately involved in the research pursuits of our faculty and trainees interested in skull base surgery.

During intern year of residency, otolaryngology residents spend a month with Dr. Michael Link caring for patients and participating in skull base surgery. They revisit this clinical work as more senior residents working collaboratively with both Dr. Link and Dr. Jamie Van Gompel.

We have a long track record of working collaboratively on multidisciplinary projects. Mayo Clinic's Otolaryngology and Neurosurgery residents routinely represent the majority of presentations at the North American Skull Base Society each year. There are opportunities for collaboration in basic science, prospective clinical trials, anatomic investigations, and surgical outcomes research, to highlight a few of the options.

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Our immunology research focuses on the immunology of disease. We have a unique interest in chronic rhinosinusitis with polyps and Aspirin Exacerbated Respiratory Disease (AERD) and work closely with the Division of Rhinology. Our research focuses on basic science to expand upon clinical findings in order to better understand the pathophysiology of the disease and identify opportunities for intervention.

In addition, we actively partner with the Division of Head and Neck Surgery to research the adaptive immune response to the presence of HPV-associated oropharyngeal carcinoma.

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Our genetics research focuses on a condition called Usher Syndrome. Usher Syndrome is a genetic disorder where children are born deaf or hard of hearing and then lose their vision during late childhood to early adolescence. In an effort to identify novel treatments for this condition, we are studying zebrafish with Usher Syndrome that have both hearing and vision loss. We have identified a class of drugs that impact the hair cell ribbon synapse morphology as well as protein expression in hair cells in zebrafish and have begun to test these drugs in mice. Our hope that this novel approach may identify new ways to treat deafness associated with Usher Syndrome.

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Otolaryngology Research Laboratory

The Otolaryngology Research Laboratory has two primary goals. First, we want to support the ongoing research in the otolaryngology department by providing expertise on the scope and application of laboratory-based approaches to investigate the underlying pathophysiology of otorhinolaryngologic diseases. Our second goal is to better understand the role that the immune system plays in those same diseases.

In the future, we hope to broaden the research arm of the Otolaryngology Department to include study of the co-modulation that exists between immune cells and the nervous system, the impact of sex as a biological variable, and the role of the microbiome in both mechanisms and treatments of disease.

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Otolaryngology Research Fellowship Program

Please note: This program is for medical students or medical school graduates interested in applying to ENT Residency in the future. Looking for an opportunity to expand your expertise and research experience in anticipation of applying for otolaryngology residency or subspecialty fellowship training? A one-year Otolaryngology Research Fellowship Program is available to immerse yourself in the research side of clinical practice and gain invaluable experience for future training and careers.

Clinical trials

Part of Mayo Clinic's commitment to its patients involves conducting medical research that can help people live longer, healthier lives. Clinical trials are research studies that involve volunteer participants. These studies help physician-scientists better understand, diagnose, treat and prevent diseases and conditions.

Clinical trials related to otorhinolaryngology include studies of the latest surgical techniques, reconstruction, immunology, genetics, and many more. As a resident, you have the opportunity to develop, run, and participate in these studies.

Leadership and collaborations

Throughout your training, you will have access to a wide range of consultative resources and facilities. These include a 3D Anatomic Modeling Lab, research, procedural, and anatomical labs, the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, and more.

You also have access to the department's research team, which includes exceptional clinical research coordinators. Each of our study coordinators engages full-time with departmental researchers to help develop research protocols and to provide education to our residents, fellows, and research fellows.